Update 5/14 – The Bushrod field project could be back on if the City can take care of the red tape, according to the A’s.
Over the years the A’s have worked with the Good Tidings Foundation and numerous Little League and community groups to rehabilitate baseball fields all over the East Bay. The high profile projects have included Rickey Henderson Field in Oakland and Dennis Eckersley Field in Fremont. Since then they done work on one field a year, lately with the help of PG&E and always with hundreds of volunteers. Understanding that the projects would be funded by donations and the work done by volunteers, it should be an easy task for cities to simply issue permits to clear the way for the rehab, right?
Not when the City of Oakland is involved.
Matier and Ross report today that the City has bungled a plan to fix up a field at Bushrod Park in North Oakland. The field is used primarily by North Oakland Little League (NOLL), which spearheaded the project.
First the problem was that the field had to be maintained by the City, but they didn’t have enough money to do it. Nor could they allow volunteers to do it because of labor concerns.
Then they couldn’t expedite permits for installation of a sprinkler system.
Then they had problems with the field’s Little League size, citing flexibility concerns.
The City’s Parks department at least owned up to the delays, asking for more time. Frustrated, the A’s looked elsewhere and found a willing partner in Richmond, whose MLK Park needed work. For now, NOLL will have to apply for next year’s effort. Maybe Oakland can figure out its part by then.
If you thought that was bad, consider the possibility that another North Oakland field (also named after Rickey Henderson) that was previously rehabbed in this program may get repurposed. This time it’s Oakland Unified School District with the brilliant plan, as they moved Oakland International High School there (good) but want to replace the grass field with artificial turf (terrible) for year-round soccer. If this happens, NOLL and Oakland Tech will be short two fields. The road to hell really is paved with good intentions.
And it isn’t just Oakland falling down when it comes to bureaucratic nightmares. The City of San Jose famously spent thirteen years figuring out where to put a huge softball complex. They only figured it out in February. At least they didn’t burn any volunteers or community groups in the process.